XX century Georgia in twenty snapshots - January

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ამჟამად ტყავის პირველი ჩიხი

After 1921, in the “Soviet country”, church bells occasionally rang out as an echo of the old life during the abolished religious holidays. A tiny and fragmented group of brave and steadfast citizens had overcome countless legal obstacles to register a “Society of Believers” and in so doing put themselves in danger of being blacklisted or having their civil rights curtailed. Their efforts effectively preserved the existence of the officially nonexistent church, a once powerful and rich institution.

In the late 1920s the authorities concluded the stage of neutralizing and ignoring (abolishing their legal status) active opposition religious leaders and proceeded to the next phase: “attacking heaven”, as the press called it. Priests became targets of public humiliation and persecution. Societies of believers lost their rights to use their places of worship en masse under the pretext of the need to use them for administrative and “cultural” purposes. In 1930 church bells were requisitioned in order to fulfil metal protection goals.

The main bell at the bell tower of Sioni Church, the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church, was considered a symbol of the rule of the Russian Church in Georgia, and was therefore declared an official exception: it was to be preserved as a museum exhibit.